One man died and another was injured on Tuesday after a 60mm mortar shell exploded in Banteay Meanchey province’s Preah Net Preah district.
Sin Rasy, military police chief of Preah Net Preah district, said yesterday that the two men lived next to each other and were using the old, rusty shell as a hammer to do work on a tractor.
“The dead man had the old mortar from somewhere and he kept at his home for a long time, but he was not aware that it could explode because it was so rusted,” he said. “He was using it to work on his tractor, and separate the body from the engine, and unfortunately it exploded.”
Mr Rasy identified the two victims as Chhoeun Samorn, 32, the owner of the tractor who died, and Vath Sameth, 47, who was injured while standing near the victim during the work on the tractor.
Mr Rasy added that local authorities often disseminated information about the dangers of unexploded ordnance, instructing them not to touch them.
“I think if the 60mm mortar shell was new, the victim would have recognised it for what it was and he would not use it for beating his tractor,” he said. “But it was very old and was nearly unrecognisable as a mortar shell.”
According to the National Mine Action Strategy 2018-2025 issued yesterday, explosive remnants of war have caused thousands of casualties over the year and hindered the development of the country. Since 1979 to 2017, they have caused, 64,688 casualties.
Ly Thuch, senior minister and the vice president of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority, said that Cambodia ranks among the highest in the world in terms of how many people have been maimed by unexploded ordnances.
However, Mr Thuch added that casualties have been steadily declining thanks to mine education from the CMAA and its partners.
“They help educate people on the ground, students at schools, villagers, and other communities. We teach people about the dangers of landmines and we are improving the reduction of the number of mine-related deaths,” he said. “Every year, we continue to spread awareness and encourage the public to work on mine-education.”